The effect of flow speed and food size on the capture efficiency and feeding behaviour of the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa

Orejas C, Gori A, Rad-Menéndez C, Last KS, Davies AJ, Beveridge CM, Sadd D*, Kiriakoulakis K, Witte U, Roberts JM

* Dan was a student on the MSc course Marine Environmental Protection and his dissertation work contributed to this paper!

The capture efficiency and feeding behaviour of the cold-water coral (CWC) Lophelia pertusa (Linnaeus, 1758) were investigated considering: (1) different food types, (2) different food sizes and (3) different current speeds and temperatures. This study used two different multifactorial experimental approaches: (1) Corals were subjected to three different flow speeds (2, 5 and 10 cm s−1) in 5 l volume tanks, and three different food types (alive zooplankton, alive algae, and dry particulate organic carbon) were offered to the corals under each current regime, analysing the capture rates of the corals under these different flow velocities. (2) In a flume, the feeding behaviour of the coral polyps was studied under different current speed regimes (1, 7, 15 and 27 cm s−1) and a temperature change over a range of 8–12 °C. The obtained results confirm that lowflowspeeds (below7 cm s−1) appear optimal for a successful prey capture, and temperature did not have an effect on polyp expansion behaviour for L. pertusa. Inconclusion, flowspeeds clearly impact food capture efficiency in L. pertusa,with zooplankton predominantly captured prey at lowflow velocities (2 cms−1) and phytoplankton captured at higher flow velocities of 5 cm s−1. This split in capture efficiency may allowcorals to exploit different food sources under different tidal and flow conditions.

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Full Citation

Orejas C, Gori A, Rad-Menéndez C, Last KS, Davies AJ, Beveridge CM, Sadd D, Kiriakoulakis K, Witte U, Roberts JM (2016) The effect of flow speed and food size on the capture efficiency and feeding behaviour of the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 481: 34–40

DOI

doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2016.04.002